Week 8: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here!

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I could bore you all with details of my training plan, but I won’t.

I’d rather talk about how Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday.  It’s a family day to reflect on a year of blessings in our lives.  It also ushers in Advent and it’s a magical lead up to Christmas.  I think we can all be thankful for the wonder of Christmas…Christ born to earth for us.

It’s a time to slow down, to breath in family and friends.  It’s a time to be silly and enjoy our successes and our failures.  Ask me about the time I used 4 sticks of butter on a turkey…I dare you.  Or how terrible the sweet potatoes were that year.  I’m blessed with a husband who can still laugh with me for those dishes.

I could also tell you stories of board games with family, or the year we invited our neighbors over and all dressed in discount disney costumes for fun.  I could talk about how thankful I was for my first married Thanksgiving, or how happy it made me the first time I got hubby out to chop down a real tree.  (A lumberjack, he is not…but I’m thankful for him anyway)

I’m thankful for many things.  Most are not material (although the recipe card we retain for a traditional southern Chocolate Chess Pie is one of my prized possessions this time of year).  I’m thankful for a mother who didn’t have to be. I’m thankful for a dad who taught me what family really means. I’m thankful for a roof over my head and a husband who gladly works long hours to help me put it there monthly.  I’m grateful for the redeeming love of Christ and that he sees fit to watch over me daily.

And guys, I’m thankful that I can freely post to the internet in an effort to get me to the Dominican Republic.  There are folks in other countries who cannot profess the desire to take a mission trip or freely speak what they want.

For Thanksgiving, I don’t want to dwell on how you can donate to my trip expenses.  I’d simply like to share with you what two cool kids who went on the trip last year are asking you to do.  And then I’d like to share other ways you can give gifts that count so everyone has a reason to be thankful.

As we roll into Christmas, I’d invite you #skip1thing.  You can check out the video behind this movement here:

And, instead of black friday shopping, consider spending time with your families.  You will have plenty of time to cruise gifts online like the ones below that give back:

http://www.vibellajewelry.com    Jewelry and ornaments providing work to support families in Haiti.

http://www.no41.org   Sewn products giving girls coming from orphanages in Rwanda a skill.

http://www.therefugeeproject.net  Hand crafted items that allow women relocated for religious and ethnic persecution to provide for themselves.

http://www.aban.org  recycled, hand crafted items that support young mothers in Ghana by giving them a skill and their children a path to education.

http://donate.worldvision.org/ways-to-give/gift-catalog   Want to simply make a donation on someone’s behalf (like chickens to a family or childhood vaccines)?  Do it here.

I hope you’ll join me and two young boys far more bold and brave than I was at their age in the decision to #skip1thing.

Until next time,

Meredith

“Count your blessings, name them one by one.  Count your many blessings, see what God has done.”

 

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Week 7 Update: On not giving up

Saturday, my training plan called for an 8 mile run. I don’t know why, but 8 miles seemed both intimidating and achievable all at the same time.  I’d run 7 miles just two weeks before with an average pace of 10:55.

Add one more mile, and 8 miles should be easy breezy, right?  Wrong. Those 8 miles were the worst since I started training.  It wasn’t even the length of the run.  I wasn’t getting progressively slower; I just felt like I was running through a tub full of pudding with flippers on from the moment I stepped out the door. My pace dropped nearly half a minute. What’s worse, I couldn’t get out of my head how bad the run was going and how slow I must be.  I would try to push out the thoughts, but they kept creeping in.  At several points, I remember thinking to myself “You have your phone strapped to your arm.  You could call hubby right now to pick you up on the road and end this.”

Well, I’m here to tell you I survived and I didn’t call hubby, stop, or rest.  I ran it out (slowly).  My dad’s voice rang in the back of my ears “quitters never win.”  I was able to push through thinking about the Dominican.  That’s why I’m doing this in the first place.  Quitters never win.  And some folks…well, some folks don’t have the option of quitting.

I recall a story being told from one of the mission trip organizers, A (as I’ll call her, since I haven’t asked permission to share her name).  While riding in the van from passing out food in the barrios and bateyes, she passed a sugar cane cutter.  He was standing as straight as he could, but whatever version of upright he mustered looked incredibly painful to me.  A shared that she asked the man if he would like to ride with them back to his home after a long day in the field.  The man replied, “no, I’ll keep walking because I don’t have much further.”  This man hasn’t had the option of quitting his entire life.  He’s hunched into something anyone here  in American would retire over, and he’s still walking to and from his job in the sugar fields.batey sugar cane cutter

How humbled do I feel that I can complain about legs that feel like lead and contemplating using my cell phone to have my husband pick me up in a warm vehicle on a cold day?  First World Problems, as some people say.

Monday, I picked myself up, worried about how my five mile run might go.  I turned to my bible for a little pick me up about not giving up and not quitting.  It turns out, the bible has a lot to say on the matter.  I selected just three verses that would fit for my situation to think about if my five miles went horribly wrong.

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

2 Chronicles 15:7 But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded

Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up

I’m sure there’s great context for each of these.  But sometimes, it’s just good to know that God didn’t leave anything out. No context required.  He knew there were days that all of us would think about giving up that “hard thing” in our lives.  Maybe it’s distance running, relationships, caring for someone, a job, eating healthy, being kind to difficult people.

It so happens, Monday I had a great 5 miles.  I also found out that half my office came down with some terrible virus over the weekend.  I’ll be thankful I wasn’t one of them and take my bad long run instead.

Here’s hoping this coming weekend sees a great 9 miles, and to learning that my problems are insignificant.  What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

Happy Wednesday,

Meredith

As always, if you would like to donate to send me on my mission trip to the  Dominican, you can donate using the donate link in my profile or follow the below link.

https://www.youcaring.com/meredith-ng-444115

 

Week 6 update and 1 Corinthians 13:3

Tonight, I’m thankful for people who are coming alongside me in this journey.

Let me tell you, a week and half ago, my dad showed up to help with a bathroom renovation and with a birthday gift from my mom and he.  They picked out a Nike Hyperwarm shirt in hi-lighter yellow (so I would be seen by cars).  Guys, there is not a more mom-ish gift than a shirt that will keep you warm and keep you from getting hit by cars.  I laugh, but this was the best possible shirt for my 4 pm five miler in 48 degrees and damp, windy conditions.  Thanks mom (and dad).  I was neither cold, nor hit by a car.  The bigger gift, though, was the gift of support and coming alongside me to give me something that showed love.  Something I had been living without just fine…but that once I had it, I felt cared for. running1

Another great guy today was my husband.  He does not run five miles.  Nevertheless, he knew that it was overcast and our already early dark skies would close in even more quickly today.  When I told him my route before I left the house, he kindly told me that he’d run to meet me at my last mile, and then run my last mile with me.  He came alongside me and showed me care as well.  Once again, it was something I was just fine doing without…but once he saw me at the corner of Center and Main, it felt really good.

I’ll tell you another story.  This one is from the Dominican Republic.  There were a man and a woman who had been living in unity as a married couple for many years but never had the opportunity to share in a public marriage ceremony in their bateye.  In 2015, the team I want to travel with next year met this couple.  Friends, my pastor married them, publicly, with a crowd to see.  They could have been given all the food and medical care in the world, but it wouldn’t have been the same without someone coming alongside them and telling them they care.  bateye wedding2 bateye wedding1

1 Corinthians 13:3 says “If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”  My goal is to get to the Dominican in 2016.  Not to show that I can pass out groceries, burp babies at medical center, or swing a big hammer (although I may do those things while there).  My goal is to show love.  Maybe that’s by being present at a wedding that a couple has longed for.  Maybe that’s by playing baseball with children.   I don’t really know.  My husband didn’t know how much it would mean to me that he ran the last mile with me.  My  mom and dad didn’t know that I would feel loved for at least the first two miles before I started wondering what the weird feeling was in my big toe or if I passed my turn. They were just present in my life, waiting to show that they cared.  That’s what I’d like to be in the D.R.

If you would like to show love, you can visit the donate link to my you caring account.  You can visit http://www.drmissionteam.org and sponsor a school aged child.   You can visit the FulFILLing Smiles Facebook page and order a christmas ornament (with proceeds going to delivering food to the families in La Romana, Dominican Republic).

And be sure to be open to those around you who need to know you care this week.

Good Night,

Meredith

Week 5 update

I officially ran over half the distance of the race last weekend!

In the stamina department, 7 miles felt good.  In the right knee…not so much.  I’ve been battling some bursitis.  At around mile 6, my right knee was telling me it was time for some medication.   Once I got home, I took some Aleve and put my feet up while my half bath was torn apart by my sweet dad and husband and then put back together again.  (I repaid in chili, home made apple sauce, and steak kebabs).

I’ve had bursitis before, so I know that a little rest and a several day regimen of NSAIDs will do the job.  I waited to take my Monday 4 mile run on Tuesday and hoped for the best.

Tuesday was beautiful.  It was 70 degrees.  My knee felt great.  Everyone was out.  Dogs were walked.  Voters were walking to the polls.  Campaigners were out.  Every runner on the way waved at me as I passed.  The leaves hadn’t all fallen off the trees, so I was running on a carpet of alternating reds, yellows, and oranges all while having a canopy of the same colors overhead.  One one stretch, I looked up to what could only be described as a chandelier of color above my head (God paints beautiful pictures).  I couldn’t help but think the whole scene was exactly what America looks like.

Then my thoughts turned to how lucky I am to live here with painted fall colors, a say in my local and national government, homes old enough that George Washington passed through them, and the Aleve to allow me to run past it all.  My thoughts turned to the mission trip to the Dominican (for which I run).  Something as simple as a pain reliever can be hard to get in the bateyes.  Teams throughout the year here collect pain killers and other over the counter medicines to take to the clinics being built so that young children can have fevers reduced and old men and women can ease aching joints.

Would you consider donating to my mission trip on the donate tab?  If not, would you consider donating medications?  You can checkout drmissionteam.org/how-help to learn how to donate or sponsor a child’s education.

Here’s to another good week, great weather, and an easy four mile run tomorrow.